Detroit, Michigan — With many believing that Joe Biden is the favorite in the 2020 presidential elections amongst Democratic candidates, he had to face attacks from his fellow Party members during Wednesday’s Democratic debate. His Party opponents put him under fire over immigration, healthcare, and criminal justice reform. Biden didn’t leave them unanswered in what was a fired-up pre-election debate.
During the second consecutive Democratic debate night, the Party candidates tried to showcase to voters why they would be the best option to replace President Donald Trump, a Republican, in 2020. For the large part, the candidates focused on firing shots at the former vice president, Joe Biden, who received a lot of criticism following the first debate last month, which took place in Miami. He came prepared to improve on his previous debate performance, which many saw as wobbly and impromptu.
Coming out ready to put up a fight, Biden locked horns with Kamala Harris, who experts believe to be his biggest Party rival, alongside Bernie Sanders. Harris and Biden clashed over healthcare, which seems to be an issue that splits the Party more and more as time goes by. Healthcare was a prevalent topic during Tuesday’s encounter.
Harris recently published her healthcare plan, claiming that it would be achievable to establish it without increasing taxes to the middle class or removing private insurance plans. Biden, expectedly, ridiculed the plan. Addressing Harris, Biden said that the candidate couldn’t win in a race against Trump by what he saw as doublespeak of the plan. He claimed that her plan would cost the country $3 trillion, regardless of “how you cut it.” He thought it was impossible to implement it without raising middle-class taxes or eliminating insurances which employers provided.
Harris rejected his notion and called it inaccurate. Simultaneously, she berated Biden’s idea of continuing to work on former President Barack Obama’s proposed healthcare plan known as Obamacare. Biden wants to have a government-run option in the healthcare system, something which, according to Harris, would leave millions without insurance. She said it was inexcusable to have a Democrat presidential candidate who, in 2019, proposed a healthcare plan which wasn’t omni-inclusive. At this point in the debate, Biden thought it would be a valid argument to call her criticism “a bunch of malarkey.”
With the Trump administration working on gradually removing Obamacare, the crux of all Democratic debates was coming up with a plan for affordable healthcare.
Harris wasn’t the only one Biden had to argue with. He also faced U.S. Senator Cory Booker’s criticism of Biden’s involvement with the 1994 crime bill. Critics of the bill, among who is Booker, believe that it resulted in the unbalanced imprisonment of African-Americans.
Booker accused Biden of using “phony rhetoric” which was supposed to make him look like a politician who had zero tolerance for crime. That rhetoric saw a lot of people being elected, but it resulted in several others serving life sentences over drug offenses.
Addressing the criticism, Biden evaded it by talking about Booker’s service as mayor of Newark, New Jersey. Back then, the Booker-led police department had to go under an FBI civil rights investigation.
Biden was also vocal against former housing secretary in the Obama administration, Julian Castro, who intends to make illegal border crossing decriminalized. He claimed that it was a crime to make an illegal crossing, and officers ought to be able to send the perpetrators back. However, the audience’s protests interrupted Biden, with the people shouting at the candidate about deportation during Obama’s presidency. The former mayor of San Antonio, Castro, commented on these protests by saying that one of them learned from past lessons, while the other failed to do so.
Tuesday’s debate revolved around moderate candidates going back and forth with progressive leaders Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders on their policies. Contrarily, Wednesday’s debate focused more on candidates criticizing Trump’s presidency and revealing their approach to defeating him in the 2020 elections. For instance, Booker, who, together with Harris, represents an eminent black contender, claimed President Trump was trying to divide Americans against each other. He likened his rhetoric to those of racists, calling it fear-mongering and demagogic.
Arguments Without Biden
Intriguingly, Biden was not the only one to face criticism from fellow Party candidates. For example, U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard called Harris a hypocrite, pointing at her criminal justice record during her tenure as attorney general in California. Gabbard said that Harris laughed when asked about smoking marijuana, but 1,500 people who Harris put in jail over marijuana offenses didn’t saw it a laughing matter. Some experts claim that attacks on Harris are a sign of her rise to the very top of the Democratic Party.
Trying to distinguish himself from President Trump, who received backlash for criticizing minority legislators, Biden was celebratory of the diversity on the stage. Despite having clashed with both Booker and Harris, Biden said that it was because of diversity that the United States was strong, “not in spite of it,” aiming a dig at the President. He preachily claimed that they were there to stay and wouldn’t leave the country they loved, insinuating Trump’s “go back” tweets aimed at four congresswomen, mainly Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Biden was vice president to Obama, the first U.S. president of color.
Earlier this month, President Trump said in a tweet that four congresswomen (all of which are U.S. citizens and three of which were born on American soil) should go back to their country of origin and fix problems over there. This tweet, expectedly, received a lot of backlash and was a cause for nationwide debate.
Interestingly, the debate on Trump’s alleged racism prompted Harris to criticize Biden on his cooperating with who she called segregationists during his time in the U.S. Senate several years ago. She claimed that, had Biden’s segregationist colleagues been successful, both Booker and she wouldn’t have been able to become members of the Senate, nor would Obama have been able to nominate Biden for candidacy.
Slowly becoming a light-motif in Biden’s defense, the former VP dodged the question by commenting on Harris’ time as top law enforcement officer in California. He said that Senator Harris, during her eight-year service as attorney general, was at the helm at the time when San Francisco and Los Angeles had two of the most segregated school districts throughout the country. Biden went on to say that Harris failed to address the segregation.
Clearout Before Next Debates
The two-night debates in Detroit have been the last opportunity for some of the lower-tier candidates to make an appearance and express their opinions on a national debate. They took place around six months prior to the first nominating contest in Iowa.
The Democratic National Committee has decided to increase its requirements concerning polling and fundraising for the candidates to qualify for the next debates, which will take place in September and October this year. With these new requirements, the DNC will weed out some of the candidates who are unable to generate enough excitement to press on with their campaigns.
As of yet, only a third of the candidates managed to meet the qualifications, with several of them having to plead for donations in the closing arguments.